Amazon Is Filled With Fake Reviews—Here's What to Look For

iStock.com/EricVega
iStock.com/EricVega

Looking at the ratings on Amazon products can help consumers make more informed decisions about what they add to their shopping carts. But shopping smart isn't always as easy as selecting items with a four- or five-star rating: Factors like the length, quality, and number of reviews also make a difference. And with so many fraudulent third-party sellers working through the site, it's not always clear which reviews are trustworthy. For people who feel lost every time they browse Amazon, Lifehacker recently shared its tips for spotting fake reviews.

This may sound obvious, but to get a feel for what you're purchasing, it helps to actually read the reviews. If every review gives the same bland praise for the product without mentioning anything negative, think twice before heading to the checkout page. Some retailers pay people to leave fraudulent five-star reviews on their products in order to boost their ratings and game Amazon's algorithm. Reviews that are no longer than a few words are another sign of such scams.

Looking for "verified purchases" badges on reviews can help you weed out the fakes, but it's no guarantee that a review's authentic: Fake customers sometimes receive the products they've been paid to rate. The best way to determine if the review you're reading is real is to look for personal details and imperfections in the story. Sometimes a three- or four-star review is a better indication of what you're getting than a too-good-to-be-true five-star review.

If all this seems overwhelming, you can also use artificial intelligence to help parse Amazon reviews. The website Fakespot can analyze all the reviews on a particular Amazon listing in just a few seconds, looking for those factors typically associated with deception, like similar wording. It then tells you how many of the available reviews are likely to be authentic.

And if you're really committed to making the best purchase you can, you can always take your research off Amazon. A product that has a similar ratings on a less popular retail site to what it has on Amazon has likely been reviewed honestly. And if you suspect fraud, you can let Amazon know by clicking "report abuse" next to the review.

[h/t Lifehacker]

Twitter Bug Accidentally Alerted Users When Someone Unfollowed Them

iStock/bigtunaonline
iStock/bigtunaonline

Social media networks may notify you every time your former high school classmate has a birthday, but there's one piece of information most sites choose not to share with users. When someone unfriends or unfollows you, platforms like Facebook and Instagram will save you the pain of knowing about it. This is normally the standard on Twitter, but thanks to a new bug, some Twitter users have received notifications when people unfollowed them, Vice reports.

For several days in June, many Twitter users reported receiving push notifications on their phones every time one their followers removed them from their feed. The notifications didn't clearly reference the awkward situation: The bug told users that someone had “followed them back” when they had actually hit the unfollow button. People eventually caught on to what was really happening.

The bug apparently didn't affect all users, so if you unfollowed someone on Twitter in the past week or so, there's a chance they didn't notice. Though if they really wanted to know, there are third-party apps that show Twitter users who unfollowed them.

According to Fast Company, Twitter has resolved the issue and users no longer risk getting their feelings hurt every time they check their notifications. So feel free to continuing curating the list of people you follow in privacy.

[h/t Vice]

This Amazingly Simple Google Docs Hack Is a Game-Changer

iStock/ardaguldogan
iStock/ardaguldogan

The seconds it takes to manually open a Google Doc, Sheet, or Slide on your computer are short compared to the time you spend working in them. But if you're already feeling stressed or tempted to procrastinate, the process of going to Google Drive, selecting New, and opening a blank document can be annoying enough to disrupt your workflow. For people looking to maximize as much of their time as possible, Google introduced a hack late last year that creates a new Doc, Sheet, or Slide in seconds.

According to TechCrunch, you can launch a blank Google Doc in less time than it takes to type out a full web address. If you're already signed into your Google account, simply go to your web browser, type in doc.new (no www. required) and hit Enter to go to your fresh, new document. For Google Slides, do the same for slide.new, and for Sheets, use sheet.new. It doesn't matter if you pluralize the name of the app: Typing doc.new or docs.new will bring you to the same place.

Google owns the .new web domain, which allowed it to create these convenient hacks for its users. If you're a frequent user of Google's applications, you can bookmark the addresses so they pop up in your browser suggestions with just a couple keystrokes.

The new document shortcut is pretty straightforward, but there are several more Google Docs features that make life more convenient for users in unexpected ways, including features for automatically transcribing audio and outlining documents.

[h/t TechCrunch]

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